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Tampa's skyline about to undergo transformation

Tuesday's groundbreaking on the J.W. Marriott is just the beginning.

TAMPA, Fla. -- It may have been a single scoop of sand, but it’s the beginning of something huge in downtown Tampa.

On Tuesday, developers and dignitaries broke ground on the new JW Marriott Hotel, a keystone in Tampa’s Water Street project.

The hotel will have 26 floors, 519 rooms, and is expected to be finished in 2020, just in time for the Tampa to host Super Bowl LV.

The project, part of an ambitious high-rise blitz, is transforming Tampa’s skyline. In fact, take a good look at downtown Tampa, because two years from now, you might not recognize it.

Jeff Vinik’s Strategic Property Partners has plans for 22 buildings, 10 of which will begin rising soon.

“So, this time next year they will be approximately 20 cranes dotting the skyline around Water Street Tampa,” said SPP’s CEO James Nozar.

The buildings will include the JW Marriott, which they broke ground on Tuesday, and there’s also another Marriott property announced last week called the Edition.

In about two months, a pair of apartment towers will also start to rise, complete with a new supermarket.

Three more residential buildings are also coming to Water Street, and an office tower in Channelside.

In all, 1,000,000 square feet of office space and 1,500 residences. And that’s just the beginning phase.

“Total development that will add up to 9,000,000 square feet. Three billion dollars of new development on 55 acres of land, and perhaps growing at some point,” said Vinik.

And it’s not just SPP. Riverwalk Place towers just announced its ambitious plans to build a luxury high-rise along the Riverwalk on downtown’s west side.

The USF Medical building is already under construction.

Channelside and Port Tampa Bay are booming too.

It’s a vision coming to life that even had Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who is coming to the end of his term, a little choked up.

“I have way more yesterdays then tomorrow’s as Tampa‘s mayor,” said Buckhorn. “But Tampa’s tomorrow - that starts today.”

Even with all those projects on the drawing board, Vinik’s group says it may not be finished yet. As long as there are empty parking lots in the area, they say those could be footprints for even more projects yet to come.